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Encountering Conflict Essay

When confronted with conflict, peoples moral centre can cause them to act in heroic ways. When we are exposed to war and devastation our reactions to this……… Thousands of Chinese students gathered in a peaceful protest for basic Democratic reform at Tiannaman Square 1984. Due to these actions they were senselessly and inhumanely killed in cold blood by the Chinese Military. The students were unarmed and in no way of a danger to anyone. This devastation shocked the world and erupted massive conflict. One thing that this devastation proved to the world that during times of conflict where ones moral compass is tested there true heroism is revealed. A small, unexceptional figure in pants and white shirt, looking tiny next to the hulking tanks, carrying what looks to be his shopping, positions himself before an approaching tank, with a line of 17 more tanks behind it.

The tank swerves right, he moves in front again. The tank swerves left, he moved in front again. Then this anonymous bystander climbs up onto the vehicle of war and says something to its driver, “Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.” With a single act of defiance, a lone Chinese hero revived the world’s image of courage. He was the “unknown rebel” also know as the Tanks Man a man who was immensely courageous and a beacon of hope. The courage that it took to walk out against such massive machinery, knowing good and well that it could very well be your last day on this earth is inspiring. He took courage to a whole new level, becoming a world hero of sorts. This ordinary everyday man had stood up to one of largest of armies which was an undeniably, extraordinary act. Another man who stood up for what he believed in response to such brutal and callous acts was a man named Bradley Manning.

A man who new his moral obligation was to show the world what the Government was hiding from them. Manning was an American soldier and as apart of his job he has witnessed such cruel and inhuman acts performed by the military that the world were unaware of. Manning new what was right, his response to this conflict was to present this information to the world. Manning fulfilled his legal duty which was to report war crimes. He complied with his legal duty to obey lawful orders but also his duty to disobey unlawful orders. An order not to reveal classified information that contains evidence of war crimes would be an unlawful act. Manning had the legal duty to reveal the commission of war crime. Manning revealed to the world, the unjust detachment of Guantanamo Bay, he revealed the human cost of wars in Iraq through the “Collateral Murder” video which depicts U.S forces in a helicopter killing unarmed civilians.

The video even showed men trying to rescue the wounded who then were shot down as well. Manning had sent this information to a website called Wiki Leaks; a website created by Julian Assange in order to reveal to the world the truth about our leaders and what they are not telling us. Manning has been held 19 months in military custody. Manning has been held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. He is only allowed to walk one hour a day in shackles. When he sleeps he is not allowed to between 5AM and 8PM weekdays and 7AM and 8PM on weekends. If he tries to he was made to sit up or stand by guards.

The goal was simple the Government want to make Manning an example to other potential whistleblowers and wanted to seek to, pressure Manning into an admission that wikileaks solicited material from him, making that organization and Julian Assange part of a criminal conspiracy. Manning was a hero. This ordinary man, a solider witnessed cruel and brutal acts that the Government were hiding and presented it rightfully to the world “I want people to see the truth”. For these extraordinary actions he has been humiliated and inhumanely tortured. When our moral center is tested, ordinary inadvertent individuals who act in miraculous and extraordinary ways are revealed. Manning was tested. His moral obligation and his legal duty was to present these war crimes to the world.

Conflict can stir emotions, including emotions of hatred, fear and protection of ones self and loved ones at the expense of anyone or anything else. As a result, people may act in irrational ways causing them to abandon their moral values for something that is inhumane and amoral. In times of conflict often people are fighting for there ideologies. In these times people who can lose there touch with reality and who’s blind devotion to the belief causes them to act in ways they normally wouldn’t. However, people who don’t think of the morality of there actions and are blind to the suffering there actions cause, they perform the most extraordinary acts that are the most dangerous. The ‘Quiet American‘ written by Graham Green explores how in times of conflict peoples moral obligation for what is wrong and right is truly tested.

The character in the novel Alden Pyle is a man used to provide readers with an American who is strong commitment to democracy in Vietnam has caused him to have a false conception of the world. Pyle with the intentions of saving Vietnam from the grasp of Communism in the process killed many innocent civilians in the name of what he believed was right, democracy. Through the character Fowler, we can see through his reactions to the devastation to the human impact of the bombings that emphasizes the cruelness and naivety of Pyle. Fowler witnesses the Bombings at Place Garnier, in fowlers words “what I remembered was the torso in the square, the baby on its mothers lap. They had not been warned: they had not been sufficiently important”. The horrific scenes Fowler describes presents Pyle as inhuman. Fowlers reaction to the devastation emphasizes on Pyle’s reactions as callous and brutal. We see this when Pyle uses a dismissive tone, “they were just war casualties”, as he shows no remorse for those who he has killed.

Pyle again dismisses the deaths in saying “we are looking after the relatives”. To Pyle the actions that have occurred are for the good of the majority, these deaths lost are necessary for everyone. Pyle is blinded by his ideology of democracy and he remains untouched by the human suffering around him. Its not necessarily the good extraordinary acts that people can respond to conflict with but we can make the wrong choices and we question our morals and beliefs. Times of turmoil can bring out the worst in people and they can make the wrong decisions. In Harper Lees novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Bob Ewell is fueled by his hatred for the African Americans and is only concerned about power.

He uses his position as being above African Americans so that people believe him and his family are more than white trash. He does this by accusing Tom Robinson of raping his daughter. We see here how someone can respond negatively to conflict, this conflict being racism and lack of civil rights during the 1930‘s. Ewell during this conflict, doesnt look to his heart or conscience. He doesn’t care if an innocent man is executed, he is run by purely selfish motives. We see a different response in times of intense circumstances, how someone so evil and cruel can fakley accuse a man for his own benefits. A man who just as Pyle was, is oblivious to the suffering but in order to follow his beliefs he must be immune to the suffering.


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